The BOF meeting on April 15, 2109 was held at the Annex Building 11 Jail Hill Road starting at 6:30 p.m. In attendance were Chairman Joseph Centofanti, Harlan Frederickson, Robert McGarry, Mark Lundgren, Sean Moriarty and Alternates Joanne Nesti, Dave Challenger and Wayne Rutty. Challenger was seated in place of Cheryl Haase who was absent.
At the first opportunity for public comment Melissa Schlag brought to the attention of the BOF that at a recent meeting of the RSD #17 Board meeting, Superintendent Howard Thiery made statements that Haddam did not want the HES property (the building and the 10 +/- acres) as a donation. Schlag went on to say that three times during this BOE meeting Thiery said that Haddam did not want HES for free. First Selectman Lizz Milardo pointed out that she was not at the meeting in question. Schlag had brought this same question up at the BOS meeting 3:00 p.m. this same day. At the BOS meeting Milardo denied that she had made such statements. Milardo then stated that since today’s BOS meeting she has emailed Thiery to get a clarification on what was said.
The Finance Director Barbara Bertrand was not present but there was a brief discussion of spending in this year’s budget and what, if any, surplus might there be at the end of this fiscal year. With many things in flux Chairman Centofanti said that no solid surplus figure could be determined at this time.
Purchase of HES sent to Referendum on June 4 by BOF and BOS
Next the board moved on to the First Selectman’s report. Milardo reported that the town was receiving a state grant of $175,000 with no match required from the town to be used on the Scovil Mills. Milardo reported that the RSD#17 has decided to directly donate Swan Hill to the Haddam Land Trust. Because of this, there will not be a need to hold a town hearing/meeting on the Swan Hill property. Originally the BOE was going to donate Swan Hill to the town of Haddam and then Haddam would donate the property to the Land Trust. Milardo pointed out that our Town Planner Bill Warner is determining the boundary lines in consultation with the Land Trust, to assure that public access to Swan Hill and its trail system will be available. Regarding the Haddam Elementary School and the surrounding 10 acres (approximately), the RSD#17 Board has offered that property to the Town of Haddam for $450,000 which matches the proposal which the BOE received from a developer as a result of the November RFP. If the town voters approve the purchase, payments from the town to the BOE would be made over three years starting July 1, 2020. The Board of Finance agreed with the BOS proposal to have a public hearing on the subject on May 1 and a Town Referendum on June 4, 2019.
$7 Million Bond Financing Plan Approved by BOF
For discussion purposes, Centofanti handed out a proposed bond financing plan which would involve bonding $7,007,250 over 20 years at a bond rate of 3.25% and would require $572,000 in additional debt servicing. The money would be spent during the period of 2019 – 2022.
Projects to be undertaken with the bond money include specific items needed by the Haddam and Haddam Neck Fire Departments and equipment needs of Haddam’s Public Works Department.
Infrastructure projects scheduled to be paid for with the bond include sidewalks, Dublin Hill Bridge renovation, Candlewood Hill Road reconstruction and the culvert on Beaver Meadow Road for which the town is getting grants totaling $6,781,520 and the bond would finance $1,010,250.
Road Reconstruction and Repair Included in Bond Proposal
The largest single infrastructure item in the bond proposal for $3,675,000 involves additional repair and reconstruction of roads which are part of the road evaluation survey conducted by Vanasse Hangen Brustlin, Inc. (VHB) in 2018. Readers will recall that the town previously approved bonding $6,480,000 for road repairs which are currently near completion. The new bond money would allow the town to continue to work on the VHB list of roads which need repair and reconstruction.
After considerable discussion the BOF voted to approve $572,000 in additional debt service with Mark Lundgren abstaining. Next the BOF approved a Capital Plan of $7,592,250 with $7,007,250 coming from the bond and $585,000 from the general budget. This motion was made by Harland Frederickson and seconded by Robert McGarry. The vote was 7-2 with Mark Lundgren and Sean Moriarity voting nay.
During the Public Comment period at the end of the meeting resident Ed Schwing spoke against the bonding in the Capital Plan. Resident Jeff Sturges expressed concern about the carrying costs of owning HES and correspondingly what would be the costs if the restructuring plan fails and renovations to Burr School would be needed. Sturges felt that this information would be important for people to have before voting on the referendum to purchase the property.